Once it became obvious last week that the clear cutting was not going to be confined to a small area, residents of south Ambergris Caye started mobilizing and expressing their concerns to local authorities. It’s acres upon acres that have been leveled completely by developers and area residents say they had no regards to any impact on the environment.
The large lots of land located in Holiday Lands LLC include property adjacent to Royal Caribbean Resort that extends all the way to Pelican Reef Villas, a distance almost a mile long. Neighboring residents are outraged at the destruction of trees, including mangroves that are natural habitat to many wild animals living in the area.
“Where are the parrots going to live? And the horned owl? And all the iguanas and raccoons, and all the other creatures that keep the ecosystem of a small island going? We're actively destroying the reef, and now we've killed 1/4 of the island in one swift shot….” commented one frustrated resident down south.
“I understand that my very house once sat on lush beautiful ground, but no one cleared MILES of it at one time - FOR NO REASON!”
Residents were even more upset when they learned that the land owner plans to continue leveling his property on the lagoon side until he reaches the dump access road and even further down south. They feel blind-sighted by the sudden and scope of the clearings, express their dismay to have to look at such unsightly surroundings, especially since there is no plan to immediately build on all the land that has been cleared.
People are just unhappy at the amount of south island land involved and are worried that it may impact the property values of nearby homes. Plus, they worry that the land clearing could contribute to rain runoff, which could exacerbate the problem south islander's already face in traversing the dirt road during the rainy season.
The Department of Environment (DOE) has confirmed that the developer in question has not been issued an environmental clearance for the said clearing, but it has come to our knowledge that they are not required to obtain an EIA. It is only at the time that construction begins that an Environmental Impact Assessment is required.
As a result of the concerns of other landowners and residents, the DOE did visit the site and the bulldozers have gone silent for now. Residents state that a lot of the concern and misunderstandings could have been mitigated had south islanders been first made aware of the planned land clearing. It is hoped, now that concerns have been voiced, that further land clearing will be tempered and undertaken only when construction is imminent, and with a clear concern of the environment.